U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders recently announced that Vermont will receive $3 million from the National Housing Trust Fund. The funds are part of $174 million that is being dispersed nationally to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable rental housing. Sanders helped lead a 15-year effort to pass and fund the National Housing Trust Fund.
“Since my time as mayor of Burlington, increasing the availability of affordable housing in Vermont has been one of my top priorities,” Sanders said, May 4. “After 15 years of fighting for the National Housing Trust Fund, I am very pleased to see all 50 states receive funds to provide housing for people who are most in need.”
The trust fund is the first new federal affordable housing program in decades, and the only one to provide affordable housing for extremely low-income households. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 7.2 million low-income households spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities.
“When you spend half of your money on rent, that leaves very little for other necessities such as food and medicine,” Sanders said.
Sanders first introduced legislation to create the National Housing Trust Fund in 2001, based on the success of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Trust Fund. Congress passed the legislation in 2008, but the trust fund did not receive funding until now. The National Housing Trust Fund is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is funded through a small percentage of profits made by government-sponsored mortgage agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Sheila Crowley, who retired recently after serving for 17 years as the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the announcement was “a great victory” for homeless and poor families. “At long last, the National Housing Trust Fund will provide states with funds to begin ameliorating the shortage of affordable housing. I am very grateful to Senator Bernie Sanders for championing the NHTF since the first days of our campaign in 2001.”
A Sanders provision in the legislation created a minimum threshold, which ensures smaller states such as Vermont receive at least $3 million from the fund.